SAN FRANCISCO—On Wednesday, July 22, the San Francisco Art Institute (SFAI) announced that the institution would remain open and continue to offer degree programs. This comes as a complete reversal when the SFAI announced four months ago that it was closing permanently due to financial issues because of the COVID-19 pandemic.

SFAI is one of the oldest higher education institutions for the study of contemporary art in the United States. The institute has influenced modern art movements such as Abstract Expressionism and California Funk. Ansel Adams and Mark Rothko are two recognizable artists that are associated with the campus.

The private art institute has faced financial shortcomings lately. Jay Barmann of reported that the school recently failed to pay a $19 million loan and had to lay off 69 adjunct faculty who taught 75 percent of the school’s classes.

In SFAI’s official press release, the institute’s board chair Pam Rourke Levy explained:

“In April, we were struggling to make payroll, and given the uncertainties wrought by the epidemic, the Board felt we could not responsibly commit to keeping our faculty or students through next year… Since then, we’ve seen an outpouring of support and encouragement from potential partners and charitable organizations that enabled us to raise more than $4 million from foundations, individuals, alums, and government programs in short order, three times our normal annual fundraising efforts.”

The SFAI board recently agreed to re-hire all tenured faculty to teach classes this upcoming academic year, which will be the school’s 150th anniversary. According to, the school is requesting that 79 undergraduate and graduate students return this fall. Levy said that due to COVID-19, most of their fall semester classes will be online, with on-campus instruction potentially returning in the spring.